Ranking the SEC's Linebackers for 2014
Individual Position Rankings
- RUNNING BACKS
- WIDE RECEIVERS
- TIGHT ENDS
- OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
- DEFENSIVE ENDS
- DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Ranked in terms of talent and potential impact, here’s how the SEC’s top linebackers stack up this season. We must note that it’s a talent-rich position and a lot of these guys are interchangeable … but let’s rank them anyway:
Just outside the Top 5: Amarlo Herrera, Jordan Jenkins, Georgia; Serderius Bryant, Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; Curt Maggitt, Tennessee; Skai Moore, Kaiwan Lewis, South Carolina; Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn; Jarrad Davis, Florida; Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt
5. Leonard Floyd, Georgia: An honest omission in our Top 100 SEC Player Countdown at the risk of including all four starting Georgia linebackers, this guy’s a deserving candidate upon further inspection of game film. He didn’t play as many snaps as some of his teammates at the same position, but was equally effective with a team-high 6.5 sacks as a true freshman. Rangy with tremendous speed and size, Floyd’s a future pro who will blossom into an 8.5-sack, 10.5-tackles for loss talent this fall.
4. A.J. Johnson, Tennessee: One of the SEC’s most underrated defensive stars is Johnson, a productive multi-year starter who has posted consecutive 100-plus tackle seasons. Like several players in this list, Tennessee’s senior captain and team leader is a member of the Nagurski, Butkus and Bednarik watch lists. He won’t have to shoulder stopping the run as much this fall since the Vols welcome back Maggitt from injury.
3. Trey DePriest, Alabama: DePriest isn’t at full strength during the early moments of fall practice following minor surgery, but he’s getting there. Whether he hits or not leading up to the season is meaningless — he’ll be in the starting lineup when Alabama battles West Virginia in Atlanta. Besides shaking off last season’s tumultuous final two games for the Crimson Tide’s defense, DePriest’s focus is to lead a talented linebacking corps and catapult his draft stock from early-round to a Day 1 grade.
2. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi St.: An all-conference lock at season’s end, one of the Bulldogs’ top players on defense is seeking All-American status as a junior middle linebacker and is coming off a statistically-noteworthy campaign as Mississippi St.’s leading tackler. Ranked by NFL.com as one of the top 14 “freakish” athletes in the nation, McKinney’s nearly unblockable on the blitz at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and is fantastic in pursuit. In 26 career games, McKinney’s posted 173 total tackles.
1. Ramik Wilson, Georgia: We all have a soft spot for helmet-cracking linebackers with dreads, especially guys who have separated themselves from the rest of the pack at their position based on what they’ve done on the field and not potential. The SEC’s leading tackler last season with 133 stops, Wilson will be turned loose as a senior in Jeremy Pruitt’s blitz-heavy scheme and his drive-altering stats — sacks and tackles for loss — will show it.